Summer Anxiety

Oh, how I love summer.  Well, I used to love summer.  I enjoy(ed) coasting through the days without a schedule, sleeping in(lol-well, at least sleeping past 6:30), and going where-ever the day takes me.  Unfortunately for a person with anxiety, the lack of a schedule and an irregular plan is far from enjoyable.

Every summer, I remember the importance of rhythm.  My children thrive on a rhythm.  They need it.  Without a rhythm, they are lost.  I, on the other hand, like to live life without a plan and as the day takes me.  Do you see the problem here?  The two ways do not mesh AT ALL and the result is stress, frustration, melt downs and all over unhappiness.  You would think that by now, I would have figured this out.  However, I haven’t.  Every summer we experience the above-stress, frustration, melt downs and overall unhappiness-mainly with only one child but the frustration takes over the entire family.

So we head back to the schedule and the rhythm.  I am still trying to figure out how to set a schedule and a rhythm for the summer but I will figure one out soon.  You would think that since we are together all the time during the school year that the summer would go smoothly.  Unfortunately, everyone’s schedule changes.  There are no classes in the summer-only camps.  Horseback riding is sporadic due to camps and vacations.  The gym schedule changes.  And there are kids to play with who are not around during the school year to play with.  Sounds like fun to me, but the changes bring increased anxiety and stress to my youngest.  He tries so hard to take control of his day but he needs a plan and a back up plan.  Until he can do this for himself, I must help with the plan by providing a rhythm.

Are you able to relax during the summer or are do you need to keep a rhythm?

A Schedule? What?

ImageMany people ask me about our schedule.  We are out and about a good bit (however, that amount extremely less than last year!).  I remember at one conference, Andrew Pudewa of IEW said that his kids were more like car schoolers than homeschoolers.  I felt this way last year.  In fact, if we were in the car-then the kids were working.

Waldorf schooling focuses quite a bit on rhythm.  Montessori focuses on allowing the kids to have an extended period of uninterrupted time in order to complete their research and work.  Well formally, we don’t fall into either of these of these.  However, we do use aspects of these.

As far as Montessori, the kids get daily periods of uninterrupted time to research and complete their work.  They get to chose what work they want to do and when they want to do the work.  They each have four to five basic items to complete daily (math, grammar, journal, reading and lessons).  Beyond the basics, I give general ideas and the kids can run with them.  An example is Sims’ most recent month.  In his curriculum by Waldorf Essentials, he is to research his state.  We went to the library to look up NC and to decide what to research.  He chose the history of NC, NC geography and the Native American tribe of the Cherokee.

As far as Waldorf goes, we do not follow a specific daily rhythm.  However, we do have a weekly rhythm.  Mondays are PE; Tuesdays are dance and gymnastics; Wednesdays are art; Thursdays are Latta Plantation, music and gymnastics (a way overscheduled day, obviously); and Fridays are horses.  This is how my kids know what comes next.  They know what happens on each day so they are able to prepare.

On a daily basis. the schedule hasn’t changed much since I wrote earlier.  The kids wake up between 6:45 and 7:45.  They eat breakfast and feed the animals.  Then they play for a little while before we “start school.”  We do not have anything that starts before 11 so they can work uninterrupted from 830 to 1030.  This gives them time to be artisitc, research, and follow their interests.  Then they have throughout the day to work on their daily work.

As far as the other things that have to get done in a house, yes, we are still figuring that stuff out two years later!  I am getting the dishes and the laundry done finally. Everyone has a laundry day.  Parks puts his laundry in the washer on Sunday (his day).  The clothes are washed and dried on Sunday.  Then when I awake on Monday, I fold his clothes and put them in a basket for him to put away.  So far this system works well.  If the kids don’t bring their clothes down on their specified day, then it is up to them to do everything (wash, dry, fold and put away).  This also is the case if I find clothes that I know are clean in the laundry (or those that are still folded).  I also empty the dishwasher before the kids wake up also.  If someone wakes up early, they are typically very willing to help with these chores.  Cleaning is still a tough one.  I try to get it done on the weekends but that doesn’t always happen.  Then we try to get it done piece by piece throughout the week.

The nice part about our method is that it works for our family.  I have read many people’s rhythms and methods to get everything done in the week.  What I have learned from the many, many blogs and articles that I have read is that you must find your own rhythm.  You must work within your own family-homeschooling or not.  We all have a schedule that we must adjust to and we have to find what works for us.

Have you found a good rhythm for your days and weeks?

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” Thomas Merton

The time has flown since I last sat down to write.  Two weeks ago, our life was chaotic and out of balance.  We have since slowed down and found our rhythm again.  Last week was finally back to “normal.”  Everyone awoke, ate, played and headed to the school room each day.  We had our morning meetings and everyone got to work.

Parks hard at work They are working! Sawyer in deep thought.

A few things helped.  Taking the time to review what has changed is so helpful when trying to uncover chaos.  In my last post, I took the time to look at what we were missing.  I realized we had lost our rhythm and not been going outside as much.  Last week we focused on these areas as well as finding some fun research.

Parks is taking a class called Animal Discoveries at Latta Plantation Nature Center.  His first class was on reptiles, and the second was on amphibians.  We are using this class to guide some of the children’s research, and to give Parks an opportunity to be the teacher (being the youngest, he doesn’t get the opportunity to teach as much as to be taught to).  For the past few weeks, the kids were supposed to be researching a reptile or amphibian of their choice.  Of course, nothing happened with the research other than hitting the library two weeks ago when I was hitting my head against a wall.  🙂  Last week, however, the kids got to work.  They all researched and learned and shared.

On Thursday, the kids went to Latta and took a look at the reptiles and amphibians.

On Thursday, the kids went to Latta and took a look at the reptiles and amphibians.

We ended the week by celebrating the winter solstice with a hike and some hot chocolate.  It was a cold hike but so worth the ending.  We watched the sunset over the lake with its beautiful shades of yellow, orange, pink and purple.  We are looking forward to the longer days to follow!

Using his binoculars, Parks is on a misson to find some birds.

Using his binoculars, Parks is on a mission to find some birds.

Waiting for the sun to set.

Waiting for the sun to set.

It's beautiful!

It’s beautiful!

Sunset on the night of the Winter Solstice.

Sunset on the night of the Winter Solstice.

Numbers everywhere

It has been two weeks since I blogged.  It seems like too long, but there is not a whole lot to report.  September came to an end with the celebration of Autumn and Michaelmas.  The kids learned all about St. Michael and St.George.  We then started a new block for the month of October because we have a lot going on.  Math can be started and picked back up without losing the story or forgetting a piece of the story.  With our chaotic schedule this month, I thought this would be a good plan.  So now we are off-adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.

As a group, the kids are working on skip counting, roman numerals and playing games.  We have found some fun ways to practice math that everyone can participate in.  Card games including war, adding war, subtracting war and multiplication war are a big hit.  They are all enjoying the game of rectangles (a game of multiplication using graph paper), the stamp game (a Montessori game using the stamp game materials), magic squares (an activity with right start math) and shut the box (an old favorite).  Individually, they are each working towards a goal.  Parks is learning the parts of each number (ie-how many ways can you come up with to get the number 10) and adding using the Montessori materials.  Sawyer is getting more fluid with her addition and beginning multiplication.  Sims is reviewing all of the math activities (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) in activities with multiple steps.  The best part of this block is the practical applications!  They are working on a quilt.  We are cooking a lot and measuring everything!

The difficult part of this time is trying to keep with our normal rhythm.  We generally wake up, eat, play outside and start school around 830.  During school, we have our morning meeting, individual lessons and independent work, outside time and then lunch.  The kids do really well with this rhythm.  When we are out-of-town or doing an activity, we are not in our rhythm and we are all out of our happy, easy-going ways.  As much fun as we are having with our outside activities, hopefully-November will bring back our rhythm and some peace.